Japanese Grand Prix practice from Suzuka

Text and video highlights of practice for the Japanese GP, where F1 is shocked by the death of ex-test driver Maria de Villota.

11 October 2013 Last updated at 07:53 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 0845: 

    That's all for today. Here's Andrew Benson's Japanese GP second practice report. Stay across the F1 pages for all the latest news. Our coverage resumes tomorrow at 0230 BST.


    Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok said: "Tragic news about Maria de Villota. Sat next to her just a couple weeks ago at FIA Drivers Comm meeting. Was doing a lot for women in racing."

  3. 0840: 
    Maria de Villota

    Here, Maria De Villota is pictured leading a group of children during an event to promote the the FIA's Safer Roads For All campaign before the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in May this year.

  4. 0835: 

    More from Monisha Kaltenborn on Maria De Villota: "It didn't take her any time until she was actually back and she was planning maybe even to drive, but more important for her was to go out there and give other people the courage that you can still do so much, even if you have had such a major setback and that courage I'm yet to see in motorsport let alone Formula 1.

    "She's been one of the pillars of the work the FIA ambassador programme has been doing, because when you go out there, you need to have credibility and a strong personality and you need to be able to reach out there to people and she could do all of that. Because she had such a tragic experience, yet she had the courage to be out there, talk about it, believe in the cause and always have that smile on her face."

  5. 0830: 

    Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn speaking to BBC Radio 5 live about Maria De Villota: "I had so much respect for the courage she had and how she fought against all odds and I always remember her smile. No matter what happened, she always had her smile.

    "After the accident, while she was doing the test, everybody else would have thought she doesn't want to have anything else to do with motorsport and do something different, but there she was saying she wanted to be back as soon as possible. She found a position in the FIA and if someone could be convincing about the messages and the strength she gave, it was definitely her."

  6. 0820: 

    Caterham reserve Alexander Rossi, an occasional analyst for BBC Sport, said: "Absolutely stunned and heartbroken to hear Maria De Villota has passed away. My thoughts and prayers go out. We will never ever forget you."

  7. 0815: 

    It is understood that De Villota, who was part of the FIA's Women In Motorsport commission, was on a tour in Seville promoting her autobiography at the time of her death.

  8. 0810: 

    De Villota was hurt when her Marussia MR-01 hit a support truck at Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire last July. She suffered serious head and facial injuries. In February this year, she was cleared to drive again.

  9. 0804: 
    Maria de Villota

    The family of Maria De Villota left this note on her Facebook page this morning:

    "Dear friends: Maria has left us. She had to go to heaven like all the angels. We thank God for the extra year and a half he left her with us."


    Mercedes: Her courage, determination and hope were an example and inspiration to many. She will be sadly missed by our sport.

  11. 0756: 

    De Villota, daughter of former Spanish F1 driver Emilio de Villota, had previously raced in Spanish Formula 3 and the Daytona 24 Hours. She first drove an Formula 1 car in 2011 when she tested a Renault.


    Ferrari: Tragic news of Maria de Villota passing away, our thoughts are with her family and friends.

    Force India: Very sad news coming from Spain about brave Maria de Villota passing away. Our thoughts are with Maria's family and friends in this moment.

  13. 0749: 

    Away from Suzuka, we have news that former Marussia reserve driver Maria De Villota has been found dead in Spain. She was 33. The Spaniard lost her right eye following a crash when driving a Marussia at Duxford airfield last year.

  14. 0745: 

    Ross Brawn says he is trying to ensure Mercedes have a role for him in 2014 that will keep him "motivated".

    Brawn, 58, has been team principal since Mercedes bought his eponymous team at the end of 2009 but the company is discussing a re-organisation at the top.

    "We all want to get the situation clear as to how we are going to go into next year. I want to make sure I'm fulfilling a role I'm motivated by and want to do," he said.


    Claire Fillery: Got all breakfasts and lunches made sat down to watch Practice....end credits!

  16. 0739: 

    Vettel has started on pole in Suzuka in each of the last four years, the German going on to win three times.

  17. 0737: 

    Red Bull look like the team to beat once more, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber showing good speed on both the one-lap and long runs.

  18. 0733: 

    1) Vettel 2) Webber 3) Rosberg 4) Raikkonen 5) Grosjean 6) Hamilton 7) Ricciardo 8) Massa 9) Button 10) Alonso 11) Gutierrez

    12) Vergne 13) Hulkenberg 14) Di Resta 15) Sutil 16) Perez 17) Bottas 18) Maldonado 19) Pic 20) Van der Garde 21) Chilton 22) Bianchi

  19. 0730: 
    Sebastian Vettel

    Sebastian Vettel finishes fastest in second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

  20. 0725: 

    Lots of useful data being collected at the moment, with most of the top 10 clocking up more than 30 laps.

  21. 0721: 

    Red Bull's Mark Webber has a moment at Turn Two, touching the grass before getting all four wheels back on track and continuing on his way.


    Andrew Priestley: It's not right that there is no Japanese presence in F1 at the minute. The Japanese fans deserve a local hero or team to follow.

  23. 0716: 

    Red Bull's Mark Webber gets wound up by the Force India of Paul Di Resta and makes his feelings known both on the radio and by waving his hand in frustration.

  24. 0713: 

    Paul Di Resta does a pirouette on the entry to the final chicane, but the Force India driver keeps the engine running and continues on his way. The Scot is in desperate need of a good result having retired in each of the last five races.

  25. 0710: 

    Mercedes boss Ross Brawn says this session is a "little bit messy" for his two drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. "Both cars have had flat spots," said Brawn. "So those have disturbed their runs. We're trying to recover."

    When asked about their pace relative to Red Bull, Brawn said: "We're not sure we're that close [to Red Bull]. No one knows what fuel everyone is running,. We're trying to pull all the information together on track and then work out what we're going to do."

  26. 0705: 

    Sergio Perez is in the McLaren garage, resting his arm on an ice pack after his accident at Spoon Curve earlier today.


    Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams: "There's change happening, which is great, but that was needed - we couldn't stay where we were. We can't have another year like we have had this year. We're Williams and we want to wind grands prix."

  28. 0700: 

    Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi tells BBC F1 that his chances of getting a promotion to a race seat next season, with Kimi Raikkonen leaving the team for Ferrari, are "very small". He adds: "I think they're looking for a bigger name."

  29. 0653: 
    Japanese GP

    There's a Lotus in the gravel and no it's not Romain Grosjean! Kimi Raikkonen has made a mistake and paid the price as he's beached.


    McLaren: Just seen @SChecoPerez after his shunt - he's come back to the pit garage. He says he's okay.

  31. 0649: 

    So after a flurry of qualifying-style runs, attentions have turned to long runs. Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are lapping around 5.5 seconds slower than their quick lap.


    Mercedes: Time for @LewisHamilton to hit the track for long runnery on pre-loved medium tyres

  33. 0642: 

    Kimi Raikkonen goes fourth, 0.350 seconds off the pace in the Lotus. It's a good effort from Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo who moves into sixth in the Toro Rosso, a few thousandths slower than Lewis Hamilton in fifth.


    James Allured: I'm really hoping Di Resta will actually finish the race this weekend. Hopefully get some points too!

  35. 0637: 

    But his time at the top is short-lived as his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel goes quickest by 0.168 seconds. So it's a Red Bull one-two, with Nico Rosberg third, two tenths off the pace, with the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton fourth, 0.590 seconds adrift after a mistake at the Denger corners.

  36. 0634: 

    Red Bull's Mark Webber tries the option medium tyre on for size and promptly goes quickest by nearly half a second.

  37. 0633: 

    Fernando Alonso gets it all wrong at the first Denger, the Ferrari driver takes a lot of kerb which spins the car round. Luckily for the Spaniard, he doesn't hit anything and is soon back on his way.


    John Foster: Had 2 hours sleep between practice sessions! #Commitment

  39. 0630: 

    Heikki Kovalainen, who drove the Caterham in first practice, says he is "hopefully" going to return to a race seat in F1 next season. "The negotiations are going well," said the Finn.

    "Caterham know what they get from me. They just need to decide what they want to do. I feel like I'm up for it and ready to go for next year. It's difficult to speculate whether or not I have a chance."

  40. 0626: 

    McLaren's Jenson Button, sporting his sumo wrestler-inspired helmet (see 0235 BST), nails a solid lap to go fifth, half a second off the pace. The two Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa follow, a tenth further back.


    Sue: I miss Kamui it is a shame he's not driving today.

  42. 0621: 

    Sergio Perez sat in the car for a long time after the crash, which was a big impact, but he has now climbed out of the car and is wandering back to the pits alongside a marshal.

  43. 0619: 
    Japanese GP

    "I lost the rear end," said Sergio Perez. "But I'm OK." McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale said discussions are still on going with regards a contract for the Mexican next season. Crashes like this won't help those talks.

  44. 0618: 

    Big crash for McLaren's Sergio Perez.

  45. 0617: 

    Red Bull's Mark Webber has popped up into third, after setting the quickest third sector time, with Lewis Hamilton fourth and Daniel Ricciardo fifth.

  46. 0615: 

    Sebastian Vettel goes fastest now, the German clocking a 1:34.487 which is two tenths quicker than the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

  47. 0610: 
    Japanese GP

    Pastor Maldonado is causing a scene again - but this time it is his fault. The Venezuelan, who lost time in first practice after a rear tyre came loose while he was out on track, has crashed at the second Degner - the third driver to do so today. That'll really hurt both driver and team as they won't be able to do the long runs for the race or catch up on the time lost this morning.

  48. 0607: 

    Nico Rosberg is the early pace-setter, the Mercedes driver clocking a 1:34.690, a few thousandths quicker than team-mate Lewis Hamilton.


    Marussia's Jules Bianchi, who will not take part in this session because of damage to his car: "My chassis is damaged too much which is why we're not running. It's a shame, but these things happen in racing. My elbow got stuck between he chassis and the seat so when I had the oversteer moment, I could not turn right any more. I am OK now, I had some pain in the elbow, but now I'm fine."

    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "It's the first time in 12 years that there's no Japanese driver taking part in the Japanese Grand Prix."

  51. 0602: 

    Pastor Maldonado is the first man to pull out of the garage, the Williams driver cruising down the pit lane and doing a practice start before heading out on track. Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg and Marussia's Max Chilton follow him out.

  52. 0600: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    Second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix is go, go, go.

  53. 0555: 

    The stewards are investigating the incident involving Pastor Maldonado in first practice when his left rear tyre came loose and bounced across the track.

  54. 0551: 

    Coverage on BBC Two, with Suzi Perry, Gary Anderson and Jennie Gow, starts at 0555 BST. The session lasts 90 minutes and will see drivers simulate a low-fuel qualifying run before doing race-simulations on heavy fuel loads.

  55. 0546: 

    There had been a threat of rain today, but it's a beautiful sunny day in Suzuka, with temperatures hovering around 29C. Toasty. Practice starts in just under 15 minutes.

  56. 0541: 

    The second Degner also claimed the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde, the Dutchman locking up and sliding into the gravel. Here's his excuse, via Twitter: "I was testing different downforce configuration, clearly showed us it was not optimum! Let's see now if it's better in FP2."

    Jules Bianchi

    Marussia: For those asking after @Jules_Bianchi's elbow, it looks pretty okay as he helps the boys strip his chassis.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Suzuka has teeth, as Marussia's Jules Bianchi has found out on his first visit to the track. The Frenchman crashed at the innocuous-looking but notoriously tricky Degner Two corner in first practice, blaming his sleeve getting caught between seat and chassis as he tried to release some corrective opposite lock. Marussia say the crash was bad enough to damage Bianchi's chassis, which is repairable but not in time for him to run in second practice. He will therefore not be out again until final practice on Saturday morning and now faces an uphill struggle for the rest of the weekend."

  59. 0537: 
    Japanese GP

    Lewis Hamilton led the way in first practice, just as he did in Korea a week ago. The Mercedes driver looked at home on the fast, sweeping turns of Suzuka. He headed team-mate Nico Rosberg, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel third in his Red Bull.

  60. 0533: 

    Hello everybody and welcome to our live coverage of second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix which is live across BBC TV, radio and online.

  61. 0530: 

    Konnichiwa! Ready for another 90-minutes of Formula 1 action on Japan's magical Suzuka circuit? Good, well you're in the right place.

  62. 0350: 

    Here's Andrew Benson first practice report and also a link to BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson's piece on how to approach the Suzuka track. I'll see you in a just over 90 minutes. Dewa mata (see you later!).

  63. 0345: 

    Good work to those who stayed away/woke up for first practice. As a reward, why not head back to sleep for a couple of hours? I'll be back live at 0530 BST, with the session starting at 0600. It'll be live on BBC Two, too.


    Force India: Busy time now for everyone in the team - debrief, lunch and then getting ready immediately for the next session. See you all there!

  65. 0340: 

    It's a good start for Mercedes, with team principal Ross Brawn tells BBC F1 that the team have already found a good balance for their cars. Lewis Hamilton leads the way, three tenths clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg. Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third, six tenths off the pace.

  66. 0335: 

    All of those times were set on the hard tyre, which is the prime this weekend. We'll see the medium (option) in the next session, which starts at 0600 BST.

  67. 0333: 

    1) Hamilton 2) Rosberg 3) Vettel 4) Webber 5) Massa 6) Alonso 7) Grosjean 8) Raikkonen 9) Perez 10) Ricciardo 11) Button

    12) Hulkenberg 13) Vergne 14) Sutil 15) Maldonado 16) Bottas 17) Di Resta 18) Gutierrez 19) Kovalainen 20) Bianchi 21) Van der Garde 22) Chilton

  68. 0330: 
    Lewis Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton finishes fastest in first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

  69. 0327: 

    Max Chilton has a little spin, but luckily for the Briton, there's plenty off run-off. The Marussia driver keeps the engine running and gingerly rejoins the fray.

  70. 0323: 

    Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn tells BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards: "I'm not talking to Honda, I'm not talking to McLaren." He adds that he wants "to get the situation sorted for next year" at Mercedes.

  71. 0318: 

    Two-by-two in the top 10, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton leading the way from team-mate Nico Rosberg. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber follow, ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Sergio Perez and Jenson Button.

  72. 0315: 

    Jules Bianchi is sat in the Marussia hospitality unit with his left elbow resting on a pack of ice following his crash earlier in this session.

  73. 0312: 
    Japanese GP

    In a separate incident, Giedo van der Garde locks up and slides off into the gravel at the second Degner corner. Whoops.

  74. 0309: 
    Japanese GP

    Pastor Maldonado spins down at Spoon Curve, but it's not his fault. His left rear tyre has flown off, pitching the Venezuelan into a pirouette.

    The Williams driver keeps the engine running and manages to get the car out of the way and onto the grass. Luckily, the tyre doesn't hit anyone as it bounces across the track and two marshals do a good job to gather it up quickly.

  75. 0305: 

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson says Jules Bianchi crashed earlier in this session because he got his arm caught between the seat and the chassis and couldn't get the opposite lock off. "I'll add that to my book of excuses," jokes Alexander Rossi, Caterham's reserve driver who is acting as a BBC F1 analyst for this session.

  76. 0301: 

    Lewis Hamilton goes a smidgen faster in the Mercedes, the Briton improving his leading time by a few thousandths before backing off and cruising back round to the pits. The 2008 world champion has completed 11 laps.

  77. 0258: 

    Romain Grosjean skates off track down at Spoon before rejoining. He then informs his team that he's struggling with the rear end of the Lotus.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Suzuka is not just special because it's a great circuit; the fans also add to the unique atmosphere. The enthusiasm for F1 in Japan has to be seen to be believed. There were thousands of spectators at the track in glorious weather on Thursday, just enjoying the ambience and the view of the pits. But Jenson Button said it went much further than that. 'It's a country that really does love it's motorsport, has true racing fans,' said the McLaren driver, who admits to a special connection with Japan through his long association with Honda and his half-Japanese girlfriend Jessica Michibata. 'The guys said there were hundreds of people out on Wednesday, when it was chucking it down with rain and they were watching them set-up. That's a true racing fan - none of this Monaco stuff! So, it shows it's in their culture and in their blood.'"

  79. 0255: 

    Lewis Hamilton puts the hammer down and promptly goes quickest in the Mercedes, two tenths quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg. Sebastian Vettel is down to third, ahead of the other Red Bull of Mark Webber.

  80. 0253: 

    McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale says that "internal discussions" are still going on regarding Sergio Perez's future at the team.

  81. 0251: 

    Lewis Hamilton goes 13th quickest on his first tour. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel waves his hand at a Force India which cruises out of the pit lane and straight into the path of the German, forcing him to back off.

  82. 0248: 

    Ferrari's Felipe Massa has a short stay at the top of the charts before being displaced by Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. The German is the first man to get down into the 1m34s.

  83. 0246: 
    Sebastian Vettel

    Red Bull: Seb's lid for Suzuka feat. classic Japanese elements with Cherry Blossoms, Pagodas, Bonsai Trees & Origami.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "One way and another tyres have been a key talking point all year, and it has generally not been good news for Pirelli. After heavy criticism from Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in Korea, it was the turn of McLaren's Sergio Perez, who suffered a blow-out last Sunday, to send all guns blazing in Japan. Perez described short-life tyres as 'part of the game' and 'something that all the teams and all the drivers must get their head around', even if it was 'obviously very frustrating to destroy your tyre if you fight a car for more than one lap or two.' But he added: 'What is totally unacceptable is that we see tyres exploding. This is the first time we hear that from a lock-up the tyre can explode. Then, we hear that this is normal. I think this is not normal at all. This is absolutely not acceptable for teams, or for drivers. It is just not acceptable.'"

  85. 0242: 

    Mark Webber has moved to the top of the timesheets, the Red Bull driver clocking a 1:35.208 which is 0.156 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso remain in the garage, having yet to complete a lap time, but championship Sebastian Vettel has just headed out.

  86. 0238: 

    Some big names starting to head out now. Mark Webber has popped out in the Red Bull, along with Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren's Jenson Button. Sergio Perez is our current pacesetter, the Mexican McLaren driver leading the way with a 1:35.450.

  87. 0235: 
    Jenson Button's helmet

    McLaren's Jenson Button, who finished quickest in first practice at Suzuka last year, has a special helmet this weekend which features two sumo wrestlers.

  88. 0230: 
    Japanese GP

    We've got a crash down at the second Degner corner. Frenchman Jules Bianchi has stuck his Marussia in the barriers with one hour of the session to go. The whole front left corner of the car has been ripped off.


    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Tom Clarkson: "I ran the track last night and bumped into Sebastian Vettel doing the same. It was really hot and humid, yet he ran it in 21 minutes, which is awesomely quick - and faster than me!"

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Nico Hulkenberg arrived in Suzuka as the man of the moment after his excellent fourth place in Korea last weekend. Fernando Alonso, who was stuck behind the Sauber all race, described the German's performance as 'superb', adding that he hoped Hulkenberg got in a quick car soon. But the Sauber is heading that way after changes to its rear bodywork that ape Red Bull's, which Hulkenberg said is down to their recent upturn in performance. 'A big (update) in Budapest - which we now understand better and better - and then some small bits and bobs. I think the (change of tyres back to 2012 spec) did the rest. And what we did in Korea I think was outstanding. I'm really happy and proud about that but we probably punched above our weight there and out-performed a few cars which we shouldn't have. But there was this opportunity and we grabbed it. So that was very good.'"

  91. 0225: 

    Sergio Perez goes second in the McLaren, nearly half a second of the pace set by Pastor Maldonado, with Marussia's Jules Bianchi the only other driver to have set a time so far.

  92. 0220: 

    Williams' Pastor Maldonado is the first man to set a timed lap, the Venezuelan clocking a 1:36.9, which is 2.4 seconds slower than the fastest time set in this session last year.


    Ex-F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi speaking to Lee McKenzie: "It's not as exciting as usual, but I'm happy to be back here. a lot of special Japanese fans for formula 1. Everybody is excited for this race.

    "I am trying to find a seat for next season, we are working very hard. At the moment, we have nothing to announce. I will keep trying my best to find a season."

  94. 0215: 
    Heikki Kovalainen

    Heikki Kovalainen, who has been linked with a return to a race seat next season, is in action for Caterham in first practice. The Finn has borrowed Charles Pic for this 90-minute session.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Caterham reserve driver Alexander Rossi makes a good point in the commentary. Lewis Hamilton is hopeful Mercedes might be able to challenge Red Bull in Japan, based on the fact that he was quicker than the Red Bull in the sweeping middle sector in Korea last weekend, which is as similar to Suzuka as Korea gets.

    "But Rossi speculates that because the Pirelli tyres were not holding on for a complete lap in Korea, Vettel was probably simply backing off in the middle sector to conserve them. 'He was always fastest in the last sector,' Rossi says. In other words, expect business as usual from Red Bull this weekend. You can read more from Hamilton in his column on this website later."

  96. 0210: 

    As usual, installation laps are the order of the day in the opening few minutes of this sessions. The track has fallen silent, as the teams do some system checks on the cars before sending them out to start their programme.

  97. 0205: 
    Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa

    Ex-F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi is in the paddock this weekend. The Japanese, who finished on the podium with Sauber last season, is currently racing in the World Endurance Championship with the AF Corse Ferrari team.


    Force India: First installation lap for Paul and Adrian, heading out for the first time in the weekend. Orange hard tyres on both cars.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Watch out for Mark Webber this weekend. It has been a frustrating final season in F1 for the Red Bull driver, who is switching to endurance racing with Porsche next year. He was in pretty monosyllabic mood on Thursday as he discussed the 'quite a few challenging technical issues' that have befallen his car this season. He would dearly love to grab another win before the end of the season and would almost certainly like it to be at Suzuka more than anywhere. He loves the track and has always gone well in Japan. Back in 2010, he was told not to challenge team-mate Sebastian Vettel for the win even though he felt he was faster and both were in the running for the championship. One suspects he might rather enjoy it if the tables were turned this year."


    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner: "The fire damage on Mark Webber's car wasn't too bad. It was the damage from the radiator that has caused us problems. It's caused us logistics problems with getting bodywork from Milton Keynes to Japan but the boys did a great job to get the car ready."

  101. 0201: 

    Mark Webber is the first man out on track in his Red Bull. The Australian needed a new chassis after his car caught fire in Korea so it's no surprise to see him out nice and early to see all is well with the RB9 after the rebuild.

  102. 0200: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    First practice for the Japanese Grand Prix is go, go, go!

  103. 0158: 

    Where does Suzuka rank on the all-time great race tracks? Who is your tip for race victory this weekend? Will Sebastian Vettel clinch the title on Sunday? Tweet us using the #bbcf1 or text 81111 (UK only).

  104. 0156: 

    The grandstands down the start-finish straight are packed - and it's only practice. That just proves how the Japanese love Formula 1.

  105. 0152: 
    Japanese GP fans

    BBC F1 pit lane reporter Lee McKenzie snapped this shot of the fans on her way into the circuit this morning. She reports that fans have been queuing to get in and are still trickling into the venue.

    They've also been coming to the circuit every day since Tuesday, sitting in the grandstands opposite the pit lane to watch the teams unpack and prepare for the race weekend.


    Sue: Right Suzuka I'm awake and ready. Let's hope the Ferrari isn't going backwards again. Good luck this weekend.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Sebastian Vettel can clinch his fourth world title in Suzuka this weekend, although it's not that likely. To do so, the German must win, with rival Fernando Alonso lower than eighth - a position the Spaniard has only finished as low as once all year. Vettel seems pretty calm about the whole situation, saying it would be 'special' to clinch the title at his favourite track, 'but in the end our aim is to win the championship, not to win it in a particular place'. As for whether Vettel might be gripped by nerves, Alonso had a sardonic answer: 'If I had five races to do it and I had won the last four grands prix with big margin, I would not be too worried.'"

  108. 0147: 

    We've got two practice sessions coming up, both of which last 90 minutes. The first starts at 0200 BST, with the second following at 0600.

    You've got a number of viewing options to play. As well as this live text commentary, we've got TV pictures on BBC Two and the video console above from 0150 along with audio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online via the link at the top right of this page starting five minutes later.

    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "The circuit looks magnificent; Suzuka never fails to impress. Walking it, the famous Esses seem to go on forever by foot but are over in a blink of an eye in an F1 car. The track is famous for its figure-of-eight layout, and the 'cross-over' is just on the turn-in to 130R. It's still amazing that it's flat-out there. Already there are large banners up in stands on exit of chicane, pleading for Felipe Massa to stay in F1, supporting Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and, bizarrely, Jarno Trulli, whose last season was 2011."

  110. 0142: 
    Sebastian Vettel

    Sebastian Vettel has never achieved five successive victories - his fourth was last time out in Korea. Only five drivers in F1 history have managed five or more - Alberto Ascari (nine), Michael Schumacher (seven, six and five), Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell (all five).


    Caterham: When the sun shines life is always better. Multiply that by 130 when you're also in Suzuka!

  112. 0138: 

    Sebastian Vettel is on the cusp of becoming a four-time world champion and could achieve the feat on Sunday if results go his way. Victory for the fourth time in five years at Suzuka, combined with nearest rival Fernando Alonso finishing ninth or lower would mean the title would stay in the German's hands for a fourth year.

    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "There is nothing quite like Suzuka, and only a day into the race weekend there have already been some indelible images. Three excitable Japanese public address commentators standing on the start-finish straight on Thursday afternoon introducing the drivers one-by-one to hundreds of people in the main grandstand. Jenson Button attempting some Japanese. Force India reserve driver James Calado had a fan leap out of a bush at his hotel to get his autograph and others leaping over the fence when he was doing his track walk. Lewis Hamilton said he had a man go down on his knees to him."

  114. 0134: 

    Hello everybody and welcome to Sebastian Vettel's favourite race circuit, which hosts round 15 of the Formula 1 World Championship. Thanks for waking up early/staying up later and compromising your Friday at work to join us for the first two practice sessions of the weekend.

  115. 0130: 
    Felipe Massa

    From the quiet and unassuming Tilke-drome in Korea to an awe-inspiring, brutally unforgiving, Formula 1 Mecca that is Suzuka, home of the Japanese Grand Prix and arguably the most dedicated fans of the sport in the world.

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FIA Formula 1 World Championsh 2015

Position Driver Team Pts
1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes 25
2 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes 18
3 Germany S Vettel Ferrari 15
4 Brazil F Massa Williams 12
5 Brazil F Nasr Sauber 10
6 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull 8
7 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India 6
8 Sweden M Ericsson Sauber 4
9 C Sainz Toro Rosso 2
10 Mexico S Perez Force India 1
11 Great Britain J Button McLaren 0
12 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari 0
13 M Verstappen Toro Rosso 0
14 France R Grosjean Lotus 0
15 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus 0
16 Russia D Kvyat Red Bull 0
18 Finland V Bottas Williams 0


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham

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